The primary purpose of corticosteroid cream is to treat skin conditions such as eczema. Corticosteroid cream is classified as a steroid and is regularly prescribed by physicians in different strengths as an anti-inflammatory drug. After the topical cream is applied to the skin, inflammation should go down and itching should be greatly reduced, if not completely eliminated. A side effect of regular and prolonged use of corticosteroid cream is a lightening of the skin. For this reason, the creams have become popular with people with darker skin tones who wish to lighten their complexions.
Physicians will typically prescribe a corticosteroid cream to patients with severe skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, or psoriasis. When applied directly to the skin, the creams suppress the immune system and slow down the cellular turnover of the skin. By slowing down the turnover of cells in the skin, the redness, irritation, and inflammation affecting the patient are greatly reduced. Patients will also experience reduced itching and dryness, which will make them feel more comfortable and relieved. The creams often provide excellent results to patients in the beginning, but the skin can become resistant to the treatment over time.
Corticosteroid creams are made in different strengths. A physician may need to prescribe several different corticosteroid creams prescriptions for an individual patient, depending on the patient's overall condition. For example, a cream with a stronger potency may be necessary for rough areas, such as the knees and elbows, while a cream with a weaker potency may be necessary for more sensitive areas, such as the face. When using a corticosteroid cream, it's important to follow the physician's prescription and instructions carefully to avoid any adverse side effects.
Prolonged use of corticosteroid creams can lead to thinning of the skin, cause discolorations, make the skin more susceptible to bruising, and have a negative effect on blood vessels by causing them to dilate. Skin lightening is another common side effect of using corticosteroid creams for extended periods. Some people with darker or uneven skin tones use corticosteroid creams without a prescription, at a great risk to their health. While the creams are effective in lightening skin, there can be serious side effects, and physicians never advocate using these creams without a prescription or without medical supervision. The skin lightening isn't permanent, and after the creams are no longer used, the skin will slowly go back to its original pigmentation.